Meet the Member BJ Billingsley
story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
story by Michele Toberer
Booker McCutchen is just 18 years old and the world of rodeo is wide-open in front of him. The second-generation cowboy has climbed up the ranks of rodeo like many before him, competing in junior rodeos, high school rodeos, amateur rodeos, and now he is on to college rodeo. After graduating from Bergman High School, just outside of his hometown of Harrison, Arkansas, the new graduate was glad to hit the road to make as many rodeos as he could get to before buckling down for his studies at Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia this August. Besides attending Arkansas Cowboy Association rodeos, which he’s been a member of for the past 5 years, he has competed at the ACA season finals twice. He also competed at several other association and open rodeos, as well as attending the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma on his way to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming, this July. At Shawnee, he placed 5th in the second round of calf roping, and at the NHSFR he and his team roping partner, Trey Britt won 3rd in the second round. He and Britt roped in the Arkansas High School Rodeo Association this past year and were the 2018 AHSRA Reserve Champion Team Ropers. Booker also was the 2018 AHSRA Champion Tie-Down Roper.
Booker was born and raised in Harrison, Arkansas, and comes by roping through his parents; his dad Gary McCutchen, and his mom Tammi McCutchen both team rope. Gary also rode bucking horses in his younger years. Booker’s only sister, Radacey, is 21 years old and she also competed in rodeo until she graduated high school but has since been focused on her studies as she is working towards her degree to become a dentist. Booker credits his dad for teaching him his roping skills and appreciates all the support he has received from both his dad and mom over the years. “They are definitely my biggest supporters.” Although rodeo takes up much of his time, he likes to unwind by hitting balls on the golf course at least once or twice each week. “We don’t take it too serious, we just like to have fun with it.”
Booker has been using a 7-year-old red roan mare named Skittles for calf roping since he was a sophomore in high school. That’s the same year that he started using Shortround, a 13-year-old bay gelding that he heels on. “They are both really consistent. Shortround always gives me a shot, and Skittles works the rope really good.” This past year, Booker added an 8-year-old dun gelding named Gucci Mane to the line-up and has been heeling on him, finding him to be just as consistent as Shortround.
College rodeo is the new focus for Booker, as he competes on the SAU college rodeo team in both calf roping and team roping with partner, Cooper Lee. “Cooper and I roped together in high school also, so we already know each other, and I’m looking forward to this season.” Although his favorite subject in high school was history, he is now focusing his studies on ag business, and hopes to one day use his degree for a career in the agriculture insurance industry. “Once I have my degree, I may also go to school for equine dentistry.”
Professional ropers like Trevor Brazile, Clay O’Brien Cooper, and Jade Corkill inspire Booker in the rodeo arena. “Trevor is always good, both inside and outside the arena, Clay has changed his roping throughout the years to stay competitive and not many can do that, and Jade, I just always like to watch him.” When Booker is preparing to compete at rodeos, he doesn’t fall back on any superstitions or special tricks, he just tries to prepare by practicing the same runs that he wants to make when he’s there at the rodeo he’s getting ready for. Billy Hays is someone that has helped him in the practice pen, week after week, for several years and Booker appreciates the help and support he’s always given. Booker looks forward to making as many of the ACA rodeos as he can this season, as he continues his steps through the ranks of rodeo.
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